NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The number of Metro Nashville Public Schools students bringing a firearm weapon onto school property has grown in the last three years.
Metro district leader Tony Majors said in 2019 there have been 13 incidents where students were arrested for bringing a weapon on school grounds. There were seven incidents in 2018 and six in 2017.
"We have seen an increase in the last few years. The why behind it, it's hard to say. I can't answer the question on why a young person would choose to bring a gun to school loaded or unloaded and in many factors, some of the weapons are unloaded. Sometimes it's a stun gun but it's still recorded as a weapon," Majors said.
Majors has 27 years of experience within the Metro school system ranging from teacher, principal, athletic coach, and now Chief Human Resources Officer. He said the district has a zero tolerance for bringing a weapon onto school property which leads to discipline, expulsion, or placement at the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center.
This year, Majors recalled some students wanted a weapon for protection. "We have multiple cases of them stating because of protection, because of an incident that happened in the community. But I don't recall to my knowledge this year any cases where a person brought a weapon to school with the intent of harming another student," Majors said.
"The number of guns in our schools and that's always the ones that gets everyone's attention. But the conversation needs to become when as we as a city going to invest in opportunities for our young people as a proactive means of reducing youth violence and crime as suppose to always reacting with suspension, expulsion and arrest...that's not the answer," he said.
Majors also highlighted that students should be praised for addressing these cases to a school resource officer or principal.
"Someone took it upon themselves to say 'hey, I'm concerned about this' and we were able to act upon it. The reality is in Metro schools in the last couple of years 78-80 percent of our kids never even had a disciplinary referral in our school system. So the greatest majority of our children are doing the right thing every day," Majors said.
Of the 85,000 students attending the Metro district guns brought onto school property makes up less than two percent.
The Nashville native said it's time more than ever to move the conversation from talk to action which could decrease this weapons on campus trend.
"As the city grows we need to make sure that we're investing in the type of things that are of benefit to industry and adults we're making sure that we're making a direct investment in the things that benefit young people and families because if we can start getting our people on the right track in elementary school and middle school, the likelihood of them being very productive citizens in Nashville as adults increases significantly," he said.
He acknowledged there are a lot of socioeconomic barriers the city is facing, money is at times an issue but the city is more than capable of providing youth-based programs.
"Funding and finance we have to call it what it is but our kids still need structured out-of-school time programs, they still need caring adults because they talked about mentoring," he said.
To read the Metro Nashville Public School handbook, click here.